They're not a credit to Schumer
Researchers on committee headed by senator identified as using GOP pol's Social Security number to get his personal report
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BY GLENN THRUSH
September 22, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Two opposition researchers working for Sen. Charles Schumer at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee obtained copies of a confidential credit report on Maryland's Republican lieutenant governor, prompting calls for their prosecution.
In July, committee research director Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner, a junior staffer, used Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's Social Security number to get his credit report, according to a Democratic official familiar with the case.
The committee, which works to elect Democrats to the Senate, has been compiling research on Steele, Maryland's highest-ranking African-American official, a GOP contender for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes in 2006.
Barge, a Democratic operative who led the research unit for a liberal media watchdog group run by journalist David Brock before joining the committee in February, reported her actions to the committee's executive director, J.B. Poersch Jr., within hours. Poersch relayed the information to the U.S. attorney's office and suspended the pair with pay until Aug. 31, the official said.
Barge and Weiner resigned earlier this month after an internal investigation. Calls to the FBI, which is probing the case, weren't returned last night.
"The lieutenant governor is the victim of identity theft and would like these people prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Steele's chief of staff Paul Ellington said. "They posed as him to get his credit report. We're not going to say they were going to buy a car with the information they got, but a crime was committed."
Fraudulently obtaining a person's credit report is punishable by a maximum of 2 years in prison, according to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Phil Singer, a spokesman for the campaign committee, said Schumer, who took over the committee in November 2004 and was chairman when the two staffers were hired, had no knowledge of the actions. "Chuck's only involvement was to report this matter to the authorities immediately after first learning about it," Singer said.
"The DSCC immediately ensured that Mr. Steele's credit report was not used or disseminated to anyone," added Singer, who called the matter an "isolated incident."
Singer offered an apology to Steele and said the committee has put in safeguards to ensure that incident isn't repeated.
But Ellington said the credit report incident was part of a larger Democratic effort to uncover derogatory information on Steele.
"In July, these two staffers basically requested every document the lieutenant governor ever signed and every document pertaining to travel while he was in office," Ellington added.
At the time the two staffers viewed the credit report, Steele's office demanded the committee pay $15,000 for copying and clerical costs associated with the request, Ellington said.
Attempts to contact Barge and Weiner were not successful.
Dishonest, criminal behaviour by Demoncrats, who would've thunk it?
I hope this pointless felony was worth it to those fools. Here's a memo Hugh Hewitt offered the young hacks. With the right help they can pin this on Schumer or some other target of greater interest to the press than 2 20-something nobodies.
Memo to DSCC Staffers
Didn't get much sleep last night, did you?
That sure went from zero to sixty in a day, and now a Washington Post editorial? And Michelle Malkin?
Don't let the Post editorial calm you down. You know that the phrase a "pair of twenty something operatives" doesn't even begin to describe what's been going on around there. Wait until Mark Kennedy and Katherine Harris check their credit bureaus for unathorized release of credit reports. Wait until Senator Burns finds out what the team was up to.
The nation's political press has always loved a good scandal, especially when the target is a big name like Schumer. Shucky Chucky is the new Tricky Dick, and the hurricane season is almost over and the SCOTUS nominees aren't very exciting. Dirty tricks --that's exciting. And felonious as well!
A couple of points.
First, write down this number: 202-974-5600. That's the number for Chadbourne & Parke in DC, where you can reach Abbe Lowell. Lowell's a bit busy right now, but he is the city's best bet for criminal defense and he'll get you into competent hands within the firm. It is best to be the first one to the firm before conflicts kick in. Bring your wallet. Probably dad's wallet, if you are young staffer in over your head. In fact, you'd better tell dad right now. It isn't what he signed you up for, and he's going to pretty ticked that Schumer's gotten you into this mess, but it is better to tell him now rather than wait for the storm to pass over.
Point 2: Don't let a hometown lawyer advise you on what to do. That never works out well. If Lowell is taken, drop me a note at email@example.com. There are some fine alternatives.
The key of course is to get the inquiry focused above you as soon as possible. If the FBI gets interested in the boss, they won't be bothering you much, except for the goods on the boss. If you don't have the bank account or the parents as a backup, consider the startegy of sending the feds to the right place asap. Did you keep any e-mails or hear any interesting dicussions of the Steele deal? Pick a good source, head over to the library for a new yahoo account, and e-mail me, or Michelle, or any of the Powerline guys at the same time as you send a note off to a Post reporter or two. If it is a bunch of stuff, spread it around a bit at a time. If it is a trail, put Ed Morrissey to work.
The key is to scent the trail away from you. Sure, you aren't proud of what you have been up to, but no one told you that using social security numbers to gather data was a felony for goodness sakes. How were you supposed to know that? Or the other stuff? And then you deleted the files and now that looks like obstruction. It got ugly in a hurry didn't it? And now all those closed door meetings and the shouting.
Don't quit. That's not a good move. Better to stay close and keep your ears open. You leave and all of a sudden folks are going to be pointing the fingers at you.
Two last things: First, when the FBI calls, decline to talk to them without an attorney present. Really, they can be very sweet, but they are not your friends. You need an attorney. Yesterday.
Second, Senator Schumer is not your friend. He has no friends except Senator Schumer. Only a matter of time until he throws everyone under the bus. He's a tough guy, the new Nixon, remember? And he doesn't owe you a thing, and you don't owe him a thing.
Oh, I forgot. Ambien.
Very little personal information is actually required to pull somebodies credit report.
However, you can see who has been requesting your report at the end of it.
Nothing will come of it.
Nothing but a slap on the wrist for Sandy Berger for stealing Govt docs. Thay all get away with stuff